If you’re showing visitors from out of town the ropes on really delicious Korean food and all your favorite Korean restaurants, its essential to cover the basics of Korean food: bbq, street food, and fried chicken. But there is so much great Korean food beyond those three that really showcase the flavors of Korean cuisine. With all of Korea’s “one-dish-specialty-restaurants”, showing Korea’s top dishes to short-term visitors or those not acquainted with Korean food in a short amount of time can be difficult. Or maybe you’re just looking for a more familiar, service-oriented restaurant vibe. If you find yourself stumped on where to go, look no further than Korea’s top soondubu jjigae, or silken tofu stew, restaurant: Bukchangdong Soondubu.
10 Magazine visited the Bukchangdong Soondubu location in Hongdae, which is located at Hongdae Intersection. While there are branches all over the country, we chose a popular tourist area to provide the best recommendation for our readers! While franchises get a bad rep and mom and pop shops are held in higher regard, sometimes the security of knowing that you’re going to get a good meal at a franchise restaurant is really important when traveling, or not familiar with an area! Plus, you can try many various kinds of food at one table, which can be hard at a mom and pop shop that has a single item on the menu!
Huge menu – Perfect for getting a taste of everything
While the name of this huge franchise is Bukchangdong Soondubu, soondubu jjigae is not all that they serve. Their menu is filled with 10 different kinds of soondubu jjigae that vary in their toppings and proteins. Choose from traditional seafood soondubu jjigae, with shrimp and clams, to fusion options like ham and cheese!
If tofu isn’t your cup of tea, try out the healthy chicken stew samgyetang. For main dishes to share with your fellow diners, enjoy grilled fish, grilled ribeye called bulgogi, marinated beef ribs called LA galbi, short rib patties called deok-galbi (I like to call it Korean meatloaf), and various side dishes. You’ll be guaranteed a full tabletop and full stomachs afterward!
Tips and tricks to eating soondubu jjigae
Ordering just one stew will give you 3 side dishes, called banchan, a grilled mackerel, and a large bowl of rice from a piping hot stone bowl. Here’s where your meal gets interesting! The Korean technique is to scoop the rice in the middle out of the stone bowl and leave a layer on the bottom to get crispy. On the side of the table will be a kettle full of barley tea. Pour the tea into the bowl, and watch as the rice that has cooked to the surface of the bowl easily lifts up! Or, as soon as you take out the middle rice, put in the tea and place the wooden lid back on top. By the end of your meal, the rice will be softened and easy to eat. Korean people call this “desert”, as eating the soft rice at the end of the meal is the finishing touch!
The hands-on eating experience doesn’t end there. Next to your table, you can find a basket of eggs. Beware, these are not hard-boiled! That is definitely a lesson I would rather not learn the hard way! While your stew is boiling hot, drop the raw egg in and watch it cook and immerse into the depths of the stew. Korea always loves a little bit of DIY with their meals (as seen with barbeque and eggs!)
Prepare for your belt to tighten – soondubu jjigae is really healthy!
Not only does Bukchangdong Soondubu fill you up, but the quality of food and the overall health effects can surprise you as well. Soondubu jjigae is stuffed to the top with the silken variety of tofu, which has a consistency similar to egg whites. Tofu is low calorie, but high protein and packs a powerful amino-acid punch. And although the soup is a bright red, a good indication of spice in Korean food, it’s not spicy enough to leave you sweating or needing to gobble down a bottle of water. You can always ask the staff at Bukchangdong Soondubu to make it less spicy as well!
The restaurant also steers away from white rice, which is low in vitamins and high in carbohydrates, and instead serves mixed rice, which has a nuttier flavor, antioxidants, and more fiber. And of course, every meal comes with a small plate stacked with kimchi, Korean cuisine’s representative superfood. Nutritionists have praised kimchi for all of its health benefits and the positive effect of fermented food on your digestive system. If you’ve been enjoying fried foods a lot lately or are looking to slim down for a big event, soondubu jjigae can be your warm and hearty meal without any regrets.
Restaurant locations across Seoul – Seoul Station, Hongdae, Gangnam, and way more!